If you’re ever unlucky enough to be in a car accident, assuming you and your passengers are uninjured, your thoughts will naturally quickly turn to the financial damage.
You will need to take immediate steps to protect yourself financially. Whether or not a car accident is your fault, you should:
- Call 911 if anyone involved in the accident has been injured. even if no one was hurt, you can also call the police if the cars are really damaged so you can get a police report.
- exchange insurance information with the driver.
- Take pictures of your car and, if the other driver doesn’t object, their car as well. this will help with everyone’s insurance.
- don’t play the blame game. it is better not to point fingers. let the auto insurance companies figure this out.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about what to do after a car accident that isn’t your fault.
How does car insurance work when you’re not at fault?
When you’re involved in an accident you didn’t cause, you need to collect the other driver’s information on the spot in order to file a claim against their liability insurance. When you do this, the claim is recorded on your insurance record, not yours. If you have collision insurance and medical payments coverage or personal injury protection (medpay and pip help pay for medical expenses after a car accident that results in injury), tell your insurer about the accident. If the other driver is uninsured or has low limits, you can file a claim with their insurance company.
what is a third party insurance claim?
A third party claim is when you file an insurance claim with another driver’s insurance company. There are three parties to this situation: the other driver at fault, the other driver’s insurance company, and you. you are considered a third party.
In most cases, if you are not at fault in a car accident, the other driver’s state-mandated liability insurance coverage would pay for your car damage, property damage, and medical bills for injuries, up to the policy limit. this is especially helpful if your policy does not have adequate coverage. however, in no-fault states, regardless of who is determined to have caused the accident, you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
how does a third party insurance claim work?
The third party insurance claim, sometimes referred to as a liability claim, uses the at-fault driver’s liability coverage to cover damages and injuries. Third-party insurance claims can be made for medical bills, vehicle repairs, a rental car, and lost wages if you miss work due to injuries caused. All of these claims depend on two factors: the state you are in and the other person’s coverage. Although, third-party insurance claims work differently in no-fault insurance states and no-fault non-insurance states.
If you live in a state that offers no-fault insurance, after a car accident, you can file a claim with your own insurer for health insurance. If a state doesn’t offer no-fault insurance, you can file a third-party insurance claim for property damage and medical costs.
It’s important to remember that the at-fault driver’s policy will only support payment for your repairs, up to the limits of coverage. For example, suppose your car is declared a total loss by the competing insurance company and is worth $50,000. If the other driver’s coverage limit is $40,000, he may have to pay $10,000 out of pocket to replace your vehicle.
how to file third party insurance claims
A third-party claim is a claim you make against another motorist’s insurance. as noted, you are the third party. It’s known as the third party because you’re filing a claim with a policy that doesn’t cover you.
Below are the steps you can take to file a third party insurance claim.
gather the necessary information on the spot
The driver who crashes into your car is responsible for reporting the accident to their auto insurance company. however, unless your insurance agent makes it clear that he will contact the other driver’s insurance company, he may also want to contact your insurer. motorists who cause accidents are often reluctant to report them.
It is vital to obtain complete information about the other party at the scene of the accident. collect the following:
- name and address of other driver
- other driver’s insurance company name and policy information
- witness statements and contact information
- take pictures of the accident scene; most smartphone cameras are suitable. if you can take pictures of the cars as they are right after the accident, that’s better. if you had to move due to safety issues, take photos of the damage to each vehicle.
Also, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a car accident checklist that you can print and keep in your vehicle. your phone can help you collect and exchange the right information.
Using satellite images from a google map of the intersection or accident area can also help explain how the accident occurred. And, if you have a dashcam, be sure to find and save footage of the accident so you can share it with the insurance company. This is especially helpful if the other driver won’t admit liability to their insurer.
contact your insurance company
But first, tell the other person’s insurer that you’ve been involved in an accident with one of their policyholders. transmit only the facts of the accident. Even if you think the other driver is at fault, it’s not smart to say that. Instead, provide the insurer with the facts to show that your driver is at fault and responsible for your damages. you’ll be much more believable that way.
Although you may not have caused the accident, you should still contact your insurance company. this establishes your good faith effort to report accidents and can help you if the other party’s insurer denies liability for the accident or if your insurance was invalid at the time of the incident and you need to file a collision claim.
At times, auto insurance companies may require you to obtain their authorization before proceeding with vehicle repairs and injury treatments. At a minimum, make sure the insurance company has accepted liability before proceeding with repairs and get that authorization in writing or by email.
Remember that an insurance company cannot force you to take your vehicle to a specific repair shop. Most states allow auto insurers to recommend auto body shops, but they can’t require you to use a particular repair facility.
choose your battles wisely
The at-fault driver’s insurer may ask you to seek payment from your own insurer because they have no evidence of the policyholder’s fault. Although most states have made it illegal for an insurer to deny claims without reasonably investigating the facts, you may not want to fight the other person’s insurance company.
If you file a claim with your insurer, you may choose to fight the other insurance company for compensation if you determine the other driver was at fault. But if you decide to fight the at-fault driver’s insurer on your own, you’ll need a lawyer, especially if you’ve been seriously injured. An attorney can help you navigate the sometimes murky laws that govern insurance. but keep in mind that if you hire an attorney, they will take a cut of any settlement they help you obtain.
You may have evidence of the other driver’s fault, maybe even admitted to it at the scene, but find that your auto insurance company denies your claim. why? because they probably told a version of how the accident happened that doesn’t square with yours. your insurer may be behind that story to avoid paying your claim.
Sometimes the insurance company will take the policyholder’s position, even if it contradicts the police report.
if all else fails, file a claim with your auto insurance company
Even if you are not at fault, you can file a claim with your insurance company for payment of damages and injuries, if you have the proper coverages.
If you have collision insurance, file a claim with your own carrier. will pay the cost of repairs or the total loss of your vehicle. If you take this approach, you will have to pay your collision deductible for the repairs. however, you may be able to get that money back if your insurer can settle with the other driver’s insurance company.
If the other driver turns out to be uninsured and you have uninsured motorist property damage (umpd) coverage, you can file a claim for damage to your vehicle. There is typically no deductible for umpd claims.
Do insurance rates go up after an accident caused by a third party?
Your auto insurance rates will not necessarily increase at renewal if you file a claim under your own insurance policy for an accident that was not your fault.
Most state laws prohibit insurers from charging policyholders surcharges or increasing premium rates for accidents in which they were not at fault. however, those laws do not prevent your insurer from canceling your policy at renewal if she has made any recent claims of any kind.